Stewardship: Giving Back to God
"...We thank you, our God, and praise your glorious Name ...for all things come from you and we have only given back what is yours already."
(I Chronicles 29:13-14)
What does the Bible say about Stewardship?
Give without show - "Let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing." (Matt.6:3).
Give with regularity in proportion - "Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." (I Cor. 16:2)
Give liberally - "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (II Cor. 9:6)
Give cheerfully - "Let everyone give as his heart tells him, neither grudgingly, nor under compulsion, for God loves the man that gives cheerfully." (II Cor. 9:7)
Who is the Church?
The Church is you, your family and your relatives. The Church is all of us together. The Church is people who have a common spiritual and religious bond. The bond is Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus, the Church is the body of Christ. Our Church is the body of believing Orthodox Christians throughout the world; and it is our local congregation of believing Orthodox Christians.
What is the Church?
The Church is the vehicle for the mystical or sacramental life of the people. Through the Church we are cleansed, nourished and sustained by the Holy Spirit in the mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Confession, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. The Church teaches us the Christian Faith. The Church provides us with fellowship and the activities that are needed in order to experience the fullness of our Faith in union with Christ.
Is there a difference in Church Membership?
Yes! There is active membership and inactive membership. Active members are people who are baptized or chrismated in the Orthodox Church, who nurture their faith through participation in the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, Confession, etc., and who contribute their resources, i.e., time, talent, ability and finances. Active members are members in good standing.
Inactive members are people who are baptized or chrismated in the Orthodox Church, who do not nurture their faith through participation in the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, Confession, etc., and/or who do not contribute their resources, i.e., time, talent and finances. St. Paul's needs your active membership. We need you as a steward.
How do I become an active Church member ?
God has blessed each of us with unique talents and abilities. For St. Paul to become all that it can be, we need your active participation in the life of the Church (participation in the Sacraments, the local ministries and the various Church organizations).
St. Paul also needs your "fair share" of your financial resources. The burden of giving is on all of us. Only by pledging a percentage of our annual income can St. Paul grow in ministry and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What is the Stewardship Program of church support?
The Stewardship Program of Church Support is believing in Christ's Church and wanting to support and continue His work on earth.
Stewardship is a spiritual discipline that helps keep our lives focused upon God. It reminds us that all we have comes from God.
It is a way to meet our financial obligations to our Church and Parish with Christian concern, dignity and equity.
It is a means of financial support of the Church, based on true Christian giving and on our individual responsibility.
It is the one way that views the support of the Church as a matter of personal commitment and conscience.
Stewardship eliminates inequalities and places the responsibility of Church support where it belongs- in the hands of each parishioner.
Who is included in the Stewardship Program?
The Stewardship pledge includes husband, wife, children and all dependents. If self-supporting members of the family over the age of 18 live with their parents, they would make their own separate pledge. Family membership allows each Orthodox spouse voting privileges in parish matters.
What will my Stewardship Pledge cover?
Your Stewardship Pledge will cover your annual Parish Membership commitment, but not special offerings or projects such as the Building Fund.
When does the Stewardship Program begin?
Our Stewardship Program for the next calendar year will begin during October. At that time, all our members will be invited to pledge a percentage of their resources to do their "fair share" to support our Church for the upcoming calendar year. Payments toward the pledges will begin in January.
Members who do not make their pledge (inactive members) will be contacted by members of the Stewardship Committee who can explain the program to them.
How much should I give to My Church?
True Stewardship is giving back to Christ's Church (for the perpetuation of God's work) a percentage of your financial resources - in proportion to the blessings you have received.
The amount each family gives will be different, because the resources of each family are different. Give in proportion to what you have been given; but give sacrificially.
It is recommended that each parishioner review the cost of operating the Church before submitting their pledge. Remember; most Greek Orthodox parishes require an average of $20 per week from each family ($1,040 annually) to maintain an Orthodox Church with active ministries.
The Bible encourages tithing as a guideline for giving. Tithing is when one gives cheerfully and voluntarily 10% of one's annual income for the glory and support of His Church. If you cannot give 10%, begin at 2 or 3% and challenge yourself to increase the percentage each year. God will honor your commitment. God will provide.
Do I have to disclose my income?
How confidential is my Stewardship Pledge?
Only persons authorized by the Parish Council have access to the Stewardship records. All records are kept in the strictest confidence.
How shall I pay my Stewardship Pledge?
In the manner that you choose.
Weekly or monthly offerings are suggested because it is easier to manage small, regular contributions rather than large accumulated amounts.
It is also easier for the Parish to plan its budget if the income is regular throughout the year.
But what if after I make my Pledge, sickness or misfortune or loss of job occurs?
Your pledge is not a contract. A parishioner may at any time make a private phone call or write a confidential letter to the Parish Priest to lower or discontinue his pledge until circumstances allow him to resume his original pledge.
Should I increase my Pledge over the previous year?
The St. Paul Stewardship Program should cover the entire annual operating budget of the Church. This is our challenge. It should be the goal of each parishioner to give a portion of their blessings to meet this challenge.
Decide what you will give; then increase that amount by $20 per month. If you give $20 more each month, it probably be a small sacrifice to your family. But, $20 more per month from each family would make a great difference in the life of St. Paul Church. Youth, education and outreach ministries could be greatly expanded.
Are there correct attitudes toward Christian giving?
Christian giving is focused on the soul and not on the purse. In making our Stewardship Pledge, we are not paying for something. We are offering our commitment to the cause of Jesus Christ and the Church which He established for us.
Christian giving is focused on the love of Christ. Our giving is an expression of our love for Christ who gave His life for our salvation and well being. We give a percentage of our resources to continue the work of Christ in the world that others, too, may be blessed as we have been blessed.
What if I did not meet my previous pledge?
All pledges should be paid in full for the good of the Church. You must fulfill your pledges to maintain an active membership in St. Paul. However, a parishioner with difficult circumstances may at any time privately contact the Parish Priest to lower or discontinue his pledge until circumstances allow him to resume his original pledge.
How much should I give?
Your pledge is whatever you decide it to be. The proportion of your income you give to your Church depends upon:
- How much you love Christ and His Church.
- Your personal awareness of the needs of the Church and of the importance of the Church's role in the world today.
- Your willingness to sacrifice.
- Your recognition that regular and sacrificial giving to your Church is a measure of your personal gratitude toward God.
How much do other people give in financial Stewardship?
Thankfully, many of our stewards recognize the financial needs of an active parish. More than 150 families regularly pledge $20 or more per week in Stewardship so that St. Paul can strive for excellence.
Considering your financial resources, are you giving your "fair share" to Stewardship?
Remember, it requires an average of $20 per family per week to operate a healthy Orthodox parish. Some people cannot give $20 per week; but many more people can give $20 or more.
Are you giving in proportion to the blessings you have received from God?
Stewardship is giving back to God!